Lingle on a good day still the Great Communicator


POSTED: Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Politics is all about communication. If folks are nodding their heads up and down, you are a step closer to getting their vote.

So it is a wonder that Gov. Linda Lingle can on some days be the pitch-perfect one-on-one communicator, while on other days she is channeling Big Brother in the famous Macintosh television commercial “;1984.”;

A month ago Lingle redefined how not to communicate with her error-filled Internet presentation of the state's budget woes.

For reasons known only to Lingle and her adviser, Lenny Klompus, Lingle decided to address the state in an Internet speech from her office. The broadcast started with a fuzzy-focused Lingle staring into the camera, complaining about not being able to get a drink of water and then someone throwing a towel over the lens while they tried to figure it out.

Her speech wasn't any better, and for most viewers it also stopped two-thirds of the way through the presentation.

The speech itself dealt with serious issues — the state's plans for cutting programs, reducing welfare payment increases and generally retrenching state government as the economic shortfall widens.

Perhaps Lingle doesn't have a retrenchment plan prepared, or maybe she just doesn't want to answer specific questions about Hawaii's economic future and figured that an address from her fortress of solitude would do.

On a good day Lingle can mix it up just fine.

Lingle put on a show last week of the governor as the state's No. 1 communicator.

Lingle carved out time to meet the press, answer questions and relay the welcome news that a settlement with the Hawaii Government Employees Association was just around the corner.

I recall accompanying Lingle on a “;day in the life”; story that ended with her hanging out of a campaign van happily shouting to well-wishers on the way to a campaign rally. At the rally she amused herself by individually introducing half of the audience to the other half in short personalized greetings. Lingle relaxed, organized and off the cuff is hard to beat in the art of political persuasion.

Too bad our collective political memories go back only a few months.

As Lingle's time in office ticks down and the budget pressures continue to build, Lingle would be wise to keep leading as the Great Communicator and bury the Orwellian Internet impulses.


Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday in the Star-Bulletin. You can reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).